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Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Today was declared a national holiday here in Nigeria. It is a Muslim holiday called Mawlid al-Navi. This day is the prophet Muhammed's birthday. Since Nigeria is mostly a mix of Christian and Muslim ( according to Wikipedia, the Muslim religion is dominant in the North, mixed Christian and Muslim in the South west and middle, and primarily christian in the South East and South South) both Christian and Muslim holidays are often declared here. I was mistaken yesterday when I said today was Eid. Eid means "a feast, festival, or holiday". ( I guess it could be called Eid...but that is not the correct name for the holiday today.) We were not very sure about when this holiday was going to occur exactly. This holiday is always the same day on the Islamic Calendar because it goes by lunar phases. But, it varies every year on the Gregorian calendar ( the one we use) because it is based on the solar calendar. Because of the difference in the calendars, the day moves about 11 days every year on the Gregorian calendar. It can also vary from country to country depending on if the moon has been sighted or not. Needless to say, for this type A personality girl, it is still a bit annoying not to know exactly what day a holiday will be declared. We didn't know until last Wednesday, I think, that today was going to be the actual holiday. I am learning a little more all the time about the Muslim religion. Fatai is Muslim and so are many of the other drivers and guards here on our compound.

Since it was a holiday ( the kids were out of school) Guy and I decided to go with two other families on our compound to the beach with the kids. All the kids are about the same ages ( 5 and almost 3) so it is great when they are together.:) The only way to access the beach we are going to is by boat, and fortunately our kids are so excited to get on a boat and see everything.:) I know I have gone out to the beach and posted pictures before, but I thought I would take a few more pictures this time to show you more of what I see as we are going out there and coming back:) The picture to the right is the Lagos Yacht club...yes, you are seeing correctly....there is garbage in the water right there.

I love to go past the port because it is always interesting to see all the different places the barges are coming in from with various shipments. The one above is from Hamburg and the other one is from London. Sometimes, when I am here, I feel a little disconnected with the rest of the world. It is kind of comforting to see these ships from other countries.:)

They do put barbed wire around the outside of the ships to try to prevent any theft from people coming up along side the ship and climbing it. This ship is from Valletta.

These ships are from Hong Kong and Monrovia.

After we pass through the port, the surroundings start to get a bit more quiet. In the small villages around the harbour, fishing is the main occupation of many men in the villages. Another way that the men can bring in money s by dredging for sand. There are many areas around Lagos which are "reclaimed land" which is the process of "reclaiming " land from sea or riverbeds. The men here are dredging sand with a bucket ( a painfully tedious job) and they will fill this boat until it can't carry any more sand and take it to sell it to someone who needs it to build up land from the water.
Here is a small village built along the the harbour.

In the same village as the picture above, you can see men repairing a boat Since fishing is one of the only ways the people in the village make money, it is an entire village who will help one man repair his boat.:)

Lizzy really enjoys the ride out to the beach.:)

When we arrive at the dock, the women and children from the village where we go to the beach come down to greet us and carry our things to the beach hut. I am still shocked that the men of the village allow the women and children to carry our things. They do not do not help with carrying any heavy loads...but that is one of the times I have to take a deep breath and say to myself " I know this is another culture...and I need to respect that." Some of you may be asking, why don't you just carry your own things? That answer is simple. The women and children from the village want to carry our things because it is a way they can bring money into their village. If we were to carry our own things to the beach hut, they would see that as us taking a job away from them. We dash( tip) them for carrying our things.

Here are a few children from the village. I recognize some of their faces from the beach school I help with. When I first came out to the beach, I would look at them and feel sadness. I guess I still feel a little sadness when I see them in just their underwear....but then, I see their smiles....and they are beautiful smiles. This place is their home and they love their home.:) When we arrived there today, Jeremy's friend said ," Where's the ground?" I asked him what he meant. He said," I mean where is the hard ground? How can they live here?" I told him that they don't need hard ground because they don't have a car out here. I think that blew him away that people lived in a place they could only get to by boat.:)

Jeremy and his friends, Olivia and Erik, took a little rest on the lounges.:)

They all had a great time playing in the sand.

The children from the village were playing a game with sticks they made into something which resembled a hockey stick and they were hitting a coconut back and forth. My friend asked them where they learned to play hockey...and they just stared at her...I guess that wasn't what they were playing.:)

Lizzy found a tiny coconut.:)

I took the kids down to the water today, but didn't bring my camera while I had them down there. The waves here are so rough, you just never know when one will come out and sweep you off your feet. Life jackets are a must even if you are only going in up to your ankles.....I am not kidding when I tell you that all of the sudden a wave can come up past your waist when you weren't even expecting it. I wanted to get a few pictures of the water. I like to come here because I know that across that ocean is my family and friends....and it is so peaceful here. There is something comforting about the roll of the waves and the wind that somehow makes me feel close to everyone back home...even though at the time I was standing here today it was the wee hours of the morning and everyone back home was sound asleep.:)

Here is a picture of the covered area where we usually have lunch.

I was standing next to someone's fishing boat when I took this picture of the waves rolling in.

We brought some lollipops for the children in the village. They love them, and I think it is a great way for Jeremy to learn how to share with others. The great thing about Jeremy is that so far, he hasn't asked me why some of the kids are only in their underwear. I don't know if that is a good or a bad thing.....I prefer to think that he just knows that everyone is different and different people in different places look, act and talk differently.:)

We stayed at the beach for a few hours and then packed up to head home. We walked back through the village to get to our boat. Here is a picture of someone's home in the village.

Here is a picture of the the Ishahayi beach school. This is one of the schools that the Ishahayi Beach School Foundation has supported. This school is very close to my heart. Since becoming a member of the Ishahayi Beach School Foundation, I go with other members of the foundation out to the school about once every other month to see the teachers and students and find new ways to help them:)

These two little guys were standing off to the side of the path. I think they had heard we were handing out lollipops and were waiting their turn to get one. I wish I could just pick them up and take them home with me...they are so cute.:)

Here is another house in the village...behind the fence.

Here are more children from the village. They had followed us out to the boat dock.

This little girl is carrying her baby bother ( I did have to ask her to make sure it wasn't her own baby) around on her back ( which is a typical way of carrying a baby around with you here in Nigeria). It is amazing to me that there really isn't a sense of adolesence here in the villages. A person is either a child or an adult...and this girl is seen as an adult by her family who can take care of her baby brother.

Heading back down the baot dock to get back on the boat.

Tired and happy kids ready to head on home.:)

Lizzy just couldn't keep her eyes open any more.:)

Here were some more men who were dredging for sand to sell....I really cannot imagine having this job.

Here is a picture of one of the many ship wrecks I always see when we go out to the beach. I am not sure, but I think that some people from the nearby villages who have thier own boats may live on these abandoned ships. The ships literally just sit there in the water and rot.

On the way back, we also saw another barge... heading back to Greece, I think.

I had to try to get a picture of the market under the bridge ( I promise I will get a better picture of it another day). This is the market where Hapiness goes to get all of my produce. I try not to think about that every time I go over that bridge to take Elizabeth to her school!

And shortly after the market under the bridge, we are back at our comfortable flat. I know I just posted about this the other day, but I still feel like today I also saw two different worlds. Just thirty minutes away from where I am living in Lagos, there are people who live in a village only accessible by water whose only means of income is through fishing. They have no indoor plumbing and no running water...and I am sitting here typing this post in my air conditioned flat with a cool glass of water I just poured from my water cooler.
Jeremy told Guy the other day "People are the rainbow of life. Everyone comes in different colors and they are all beautiful!"" He learned this at school from his fantastic teacher. I thought to myself today as I was looking at the people in the village with their the risk of sounding too much like a "Pollyanna" ...that is so true. Never did I think I would ever feel a connection to people in a small village through a school I help with. Never did I think I would be walking on a beach on the west coast of africa. I have to say that living here has truly opened my eyes to the beauty in people from many different places.:)

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